Melbourne based artist Heidi Valkenburg chats to Work Wear about her wardrobe routine and keeping inspired.
Heidi broke into acting at a young age and after working on many of Australia’s top television shows has spent the past four years creating and exhibiting her visual art. Heidi describes herself as a creative writer, conceptual photographer and art director with a unique ability to fall over often.
As both an incredible actress and inspired visual artist Heidi brings a touch of old bohemian glamour wherever she goes. Exuberant and bubbly, Heidi’s artistic influences include Vali Myers, Patti Smith and Frida Kahlo. She’s the kind of person everybody loves to meet. And you’ll never forget her once you do.
What is your profession?
I am an actor primarily, who also dabbles in some visual art, freelance writing, and a few other creative / collaborative bits and bobs.
Why do you do it?
Because making art makes me feel joyful and alive. Life is over before we know it and I don’t want to die regretful I never gave my creative pursuits a proper shot.
“Making art makes me feel joyful and alive”
Can you describe your creative process?
I suppose it varies somewhat depending on what I’m working on. I might shoot or paint something impulsively for example, and then work on a script with slow dissection and meticulous detail for weeks on end. Inspiration IS everywhere, despite that phrase being a little ‘pinterest 101’.
I’m lucky (and arguably unlucky) in that a lot of things drum up a strong emotional response for me, and therefore inspire me in some way on a regular basis. A girl on the train. A passage in a book. Music. I think we all just need to remind ourselves to look up, and look around. Nature seems to always be a constant source of inspiration. It never fails to stir something strong within.
Work created for Heidi’s solo exhibit Yugen at L1 Studios in Melbourne.
She created large scale work by first photographing her subject, then printing her photo onto thick pulp paper. She then hand painted watercolors onto the image to create dream like realities for her subjects.
Where do you find passion for your work?
Social justice and injustice. That drive most actors have to explore the human condition and to honour writers and tell important stories… I’m pretty passionate about laughter too.
I’m constantly thinking about how impermanent everything is, and how it is I wish to contribute in the world and what I REALLY want to achieve on the vast creative spectrum. Passion for what I do and what I’m trying to reach is undeniably birthed from that thought process, I think.
How does gender influence your art and industry?
Oh golly. Greatly, and on a multifaceted level. Being a woman, and all that comes with that, will often if not always come up in performative and visual art work.
I feel like there are so many things I could make mention of here… but I suppose the most important thing to touch upon is the industry inequality women face. From lack of accurate representation to how women are portrayed on screen, career longevity, equal pay, gender bias and the blatant sexism we experience.
The good news is there are fantastic organisations bringing awareness to these issues and people are speaking out more and more. I’m confident and optimistic things will continue to change for the better.
What’s the biggest frustration with your practice?
The lack of support we see for the arts, and the work simply not being there at times, and that leading to financial struggle and uncertainty. Also having to explain or justify your lifestyle to family members on a regular basis!
What’s a major lesson you’ve learnt on creativity?
I’ve learnt that sometimes it needs to be channeled. Creative waves are great, they sweep over you suddenly and a kind of magic can happen – BUT I’ve learnt you also have to practice creativity, in the way that you drag your butt to yoga on mornings when you’d rather stay in bed.
There are times when I won’t feel practically inspired or productive but I’ll have a deadline and that means getting to work regardless of how I feel. The interesting thing is, I think sometimes our best work can be created in these ‘forced’ moments.
When do you need to look professional?
When going on auditions, to industry events, promoting a show or arriving on set… all the time really! The factors that influence my wardrobe right now are comfortability, ethical sourcing / manufacturing, sustainability, and not having to iron. Ever.
What do you think of the idea of wearing the same clothes everyday?
At this point in my life the concept feels somewhat of a relief. When travel and having a lot of things on the go is super prevalent within your existence, creating outfits or thinking about what to wear every day often isn’t on the important list of things to do, and can feel a bit of a time waster.
“Creative waves are great, they sweep over you suddenly and a kind of magic can happen”
What are your words of inspiration for fellow artists?
Be kind to yourself. Listen to what calls you in the hush of night. In the quiet moments. Trust it. Live it. Don’t ignore it. And don’t let those that don’t understand you, your aspirations and your practice influence your mindset.
You are all you need. To create, to be, and to live the life you desire. You are wonderful.
Please don’t give up.
The world cannot survive without art. We need you, and we love you.